How to choose your bridal party
Like, really? How?
You've got engaged, and your best mates rally round in a bubble of excitement and anticipation. It's electric. These people have been at your side, through thick and thin. How on earth are you supposed to choose between them without offending anyone?
Or, your partner is your bestie...and your family are your lifeline. There's no one really you want to ask. Do I really need a best man/bridesmaid?
The answer...it's totally up to you.
I can't tell you the amount of times, that a question has been asked of me starting with the words...
'how am I supposed to do...'
'how do other brides do...'
'what will people think if I...'
'what's traditionally done about...'
My answer to all of the above, and more is...'WHO CARES?!' This is YOUR WEDDING. Not mine, not anyone else's, it's yours and your partner's. You do YOU.
Right, got that off my chest!
Back to the original subject. How to choose, your bridal party.
Firstly, I once got asked: do I even need bridesmaids/best men/ ushers?
My answer, is no. Not if you don't want to. That is absolutely ok. I would just ask you to think about what bridesmaids and ushers might be able to do to help. Keep reading...
Don't jump into asking the whole world and his wife, straight away. Take your time. This isn't a people pleasing exercise.
This is what worked for me...
1) I really thought about who was my nearest and dearest. I'm incredibly blessed to have some amazing women in my life, who have all supported me at different times, for different things. I also have 1 sister, 1 sister in law, and am about to gain two more. I have a teenage niece, an array of god children, 4 nephews...I feel like I might let a lot of people down because I can't possibly afford everyone.
I asked myself, who has been my constant. Who will be my rock, when I really need them not just now, but in the future too? Will they still be in my life in 10 years time? My family have no choice, I'll still be annoying them!
2) Then I considered what I wanted the bridal party to do, the roles they will be play, and how much will be expected of them. It's important you make this as clear as possible when you ask them to be in your special day. If you want a very 'hands on' bridal party, set their expectations. If you are expecting them to purchase their own dresses/suits, make that clear. It's pricey being a bridesmaid! (dresses, jewellery, accessories, hen do, wedding present, accommodation for the hen do AND the wedding, hair and make up, transport costs, it all adds up)
3) If you can't include everyone, think about alternative roles for them to play. I decided against having my sister/sisters in law in my party. It was a hard decision, especially as I had been bridesmaid for 2 of them in the past. However, once I'd make the choice, I spoke to each of them individually and asked them to play a different part or involved them in other ways. Both of our sisters did a reading for example, and my brother's wife attended dress fittings with me and my Mum.
4) There are NO rules. If you want a male bridesmaid, or a female best 'woman' then so be it! I had a brides' usher and a Lusher (lady usher) on my grooms side. I also had TWO MOH's.
5) Don't feel obliged to ask someone, just because they asked you. I'd suggest talking to the people who may be 'expecting' to be included, if they're not going to be.
6) They aren't your slaves. I've seen so so many horror stories about bride/groomzillas demanding and expecting so much of their bridal squad. Remember that your wedding is important to them, but won't be occupying their minds as much as it yours. They have lives outside of the wedding and can't be expected to drop everything to run errands. Equally, if someone becomes flaky or unreliable, you may need to re-think your squad...lean on those who will help when needed.
7) Think about group dynamics. Do you have people in your group who may not see eye to eye, or have past history? Consider how your group will get on with each other, especially when planning the hen/stag's and on the morning of the wedding. The last thing you'll need is any extra drama on the lead up to the day. Aim for a group who will be friendly, courteous, considerate and who can transition easily between different social groups.
8) I asked myself, who will make me happy, who will pick me up when I'm down, who will not judge my perfectionism, and love of spreadsheets? Who will understand what I want from my hen do, who will understand that I feel very anxious about the whole thing and will reassure me? I settled on two childhood friends as my MOH's, two friends from uni and my niece as my three bridesmaids and my eldest nephew as my bride's usher. I also had an array of page boys, flower girls etc.
My groom had his child hood friend as his best man, both of our brothers and a selection of friends as his ushers. He also had his bestie from uni as his Lusher.
9) We didn't care that we had an uneven number for the photos. It just didn't bother us. And I LOVE symmetry. I revert back to point 4! We asked those who we thought would deliver, those who ticked all of the above checklists, and spoke to those who we thought might be expecting to be included somehow.
10) Once I'd chosen my bridesmaids, I asked them each individually. I put together a box with personalised bits in, including a card detailing exactly why they were so important to me, and why I'd love for them to be a bridesmaid.
Fortunately they all agreed!
I was nervous that my two MOH's and two uni girls were from different stages of my life, and one big hen do, was causing me so much anxiety at the thought of combining all the different aspects of my life. (Side note, they're ALL amazing women and I know would all get on, it was me, worrying that I'd be the only common connecting factor, and would feel obliged to make sure everyone was getting on, rather than focus on enjoying my hen do).
So, I split my hen do's into different social groups and I couldn't have been happier with my decisions. I became the butt of many jokes for being the bride with 5 hen do's, but it saved my anxiety, and meant I got to spread the celebrations out in the lead up to the wedding.
There are lots of helpful websites, and quizzes out there to help you make the decision. This is what worked for me, it might not work for everyone though :)
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